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Sunday, February 19, 2012

New Mexico

My favorite state of all time is New Mexico. I've been there on two separate occasions- the first time for a field course during the summer of 2009 and this past August on a road trip from Texas to California. There is so much to do in NM, no matter what types of entertainment you enjoy.

During my field course, most of my time was spent in Santa Fe doing field work or in the lab at a computer, but there were also chances to get out and see what the state had to offer! Santa Fe is a really cool, small city. The Santa Fe Plaza is a National Historic Landmark in downtown Santa Fe. Right from the Plaza, you can see the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, a Catholic church built between 1869 and 1886. The Cathedral itself is very detail-oriented in its design and decorations- absolutely beautiful. Another great thing about the Plaza is that it hosts a variety of activities including car shows, festivals, musical events, etc. There are lots of shops, as well as the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. When I visited the museum, Georgia O'Keeffe's painting of Jimson Weed (usually displayed in the White House) was part of the exhibit for the summer. The museum contains 1,150 of O'Keeffe's paintings. Many of the paintings from the 1920's and later were inspired by the New Mexico landscape. We happened to be in Santa Fe for the 4th of July where the Plaza had a Pancake Breakfast, children's parade, and a band playing patriotic songs.

To the west of Santa Fe (near Los Alamos), is the Valles Caldera National Preserve. The Valle Grande Valdera is HUGE. It's about 20km in diameter, and when active, produced 500 times more material than Mt St Helens. In the image to the left, you can only see a small portion of the entire caldera. Off in the distance, there were small animals in the field that we thought were goats or sheep. Turned out to be cows!

North of Santa Fe, is the Abiquiu Reservoir and Taos. We accidently ended up in Taos when trying to find the Abiquiu Reservoir, but had a great time while we were there! Taos is a neat city, with lots to offer, but we only spent a few hours there. The most significant thing I remember about my time in Taos, was that it was the day Michael Jackson died. We ate at the Alley Cantina (, and walked around the plaza looking in different shops.

We had the 4th of July off, and spent the morning at the Santa Fe Plaza for the pancake breakfast. In the afternoon, we finally made it to the Abiquiu Reserve where we spent the day cliff jumping. Generally speaking, you can go anywhere in NM and be completely amazed by the land surrounding you. I have never seen a landscape that was anything less than beautiful.

My second trip through New Mexico, we spent 2 nights in Albuquerque (so, one full day). The first thing we knew we wanted to do was go to Sandia Peak. In the winter, it's a really big ski resort, but in the summer it's primarily hikers. We parked at the bottom of the mountains and took the Tram to the top- 2.7 miles! Once at the top, we mostly hiked, but at a slow pace. The day before, we had been around 340 feet above sea level. The Sandia Mountains have a base elevation of around 6559 feet and a top elevation of 10378 feet. Despite being a little short of breath, the views were absolutely amazing. At the top of Sandia Peak, there is a trail that leads to the Kiwanis Cabin, which was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936. Another area at the peak has pipes that are permanently directed toward a variety of views. I liked that because you know exactly where to look and what you're looking at. You can see EVERYTHING from this height! We ate at a restaurant on the peak called the High Finance Restaurant and Tavern. The food was a little expensive, but tasted great. The service there was also really good, and you can't beat the fact that you're eating a meal at the top of Sandia Peak.

Another interesting part of Albuquerque is Old Town. There are shops, restaurants and historic sites, as well as museums, an aquarium, etc. We didn't spend much time here, but we did get to see a little bit of the old culture of Albuquerque. The San Felipe de Neri Church is a Catholic Church built in 1973. Native Americans sat along the streets selling pots and jewelry, all authentic and for a great price.

Our last pitstop in NM was the day we were leaving and heading to Arizona. Petroglyph National Monument (also in Albuquerque) protects a variety of cultural and natural resources including volcanoes, archeological sites and an estimated 24,000 carved images. There are some long trails you can take, but we decided to take three short trails all in Boca Negra Canyon. The first trail, Mesa Point Trail, was the longest (~35 minutes of hiking). The other two, the Macaw and Cliff Base Trails, were only around 10 minutes. Each trail had a variety of petroglyphs, some of which were more exciting than others. There were OnCell Phone Audio Tours available, which were great because it gave us the inside scoop of what was going on! The entire loop we hiked around was around remnants of an old volcano. The black rocks the petroglyphs were carved into were the igneous rocks solidified from the magma. The center of the loop was more "valley-like," due to the sedimentary hill wearing away over time.

There really is SO much to do in New Mexico. Even though my trips were split, Santa Fe is only an hour northeast of Albuquerque. Determining the total cost is a little tricky, but I can do my best to break it down. I think the best part about New Mexico is that there are many things that are free. For example, spending the day in the Santa Fe Plaza while there are events going on- you can walk around, see the Cathedral Basilica, visit museums on their free days. There are also many opportunities to drive around or hike. Or trip to Abiquiu was free, and we spent several hours sun bathing and swimming. Our visit to the Valle Caldera was also free. During my second trip, walking around Old Town and visiting the San Felipe Cathedral was free. So what actually cost money? Food, of course, is the obvious one, as well as a hotel. I didn't need to worry about lodging during my first trip in Santa Fe, but there is a great deal of inexpensive lodging in Albuqueque. We stayed at the Days Inn Albuquerque West, which was less than $100 for 2 nights, including tax. The rooms were great and they had free breakfast. The Sandia Peak tram was another somewhat significant cost at $20/person. The price for Petroglyph National Monument was $1/car.

So, $100 for the hotel, $1 for the Petroglyphs, $40 for the Tram, plus food and gas, for several days worth of sight-seeing and experiences. Not bad and definitely worth it for the beauty New Mexico has to offer!

Monday, March 7, 2011

St. Augustine, Florida

I realize it's been a VERY long while since I've posted. There are 2 reasons for this. One reason, is that one main purpose of this blog is to let my mind wander and remember some of the glorious places I've been to. Since October 2009, I have taken a trip somewhere almost every month. It's hard to reminisce when you're caught up in the constant excitement of a new adventure. The other reason for my lack of blogging? Too busy. It take a lot of focus and energy to write and find the perfect pictures that capture the feeling. That being said, it's time for a new post.

I find that a common theme among cities I find fascinating are their historical roots in Spanish heritage. Spanish food, Spanish architecture, Spanish history... I love it. One of the coolest cities I've ever been to is St. Augustine, Florida. My visit to this glorious city took place in January 2009 with two wonderful friends. To be clear, my trip to St. Augustine was a 1-day trip, which was part of a much larger trip, but this city deserves its own post.

One of the coolest "fun facts" about St. Augustine, is that it's the oldest city in the Continental United States. It's also the birthplace of Christianity in the U.S. St. Augustine is on a barrier spit. In other words, you have to cross a bridge to get there, or go around the long way. At the time we visited, the original bridge was undergoing construction. From what I understand, about a year ago the bridge reopened. This particular bridge is known by the marble lions which stand at the entrance of the bridge, and appropriately, is named the Bridge of Lions. This month, the lions will be returned to the bridge.

I highly recommend stopping at the Visitor's Center before venturing off around the city. There is SO much to do, that it's a good idea to have a clue of what you're even interested in seeing. I recommend getting a guided tour of the city. We decided to go with the trolley tour. This tour is fantastic for so many reasons. #1, it's cheap. Right now the cost posted is $23 for adults ($20.70 if you purchase online).
(Also, the ticket is good for three consecutive days of unlimited use and includes free admission to the St. Augustine History Museum and free Beach Bus Shuttle.) My favorite part about the trolley tour, was that at any "site", you could get out and look around, and another trolley would come around every 30 minutes to pick you up.

One of the sites we passed was the Tolomato Cemetery. It’s one of Florida’s oldest cemeteries, and is known to be the final resting place of many confederate soldiers. One stop we were sure to spend some time at was Flagler Memorial Presbyterian Church. Henry Flagler had this church built in 1889 as a memorial to his daughter. The day Flagler's daughter died, construction began on the church, and just 361 days later, it was completed in time for a 1-year memorial service. Every detail in this church is flawless.

Favorite stop #2 was San Sebastian Winery where they have free wine tasting. I promise you, this wine is amazing. Unfortunately, there are many states they cannot ship to, and Texas is one of them (I think New York is also one of them). This wine tasting is as extensive as any wine tasting you might have to pay for. You also get a tour of the winery and the Cellar Upstairs Wine and Jazz Bar sits at the top of the winery and is an open-air deck that entertains guests on weekends. We went mid-day and did not take advantage of the Wine and Jazz Bar, though I'm sure it would be lovely.

A couple other fun places we got to see were the Villa Zorayda and St. Augustine Lighthouse. In the Villa Zorayda, all the windows were different shapes because they believed that if a spirit escaped the building, then they couldn't re-enter because they couldn't remember which window they came out of. How creative is that?! I loved how quirky this building was with it's crazy windows, but still managed to maintain an overall Spanish "look" to it. The tour continued on to view the Fountain of Youth, spanish moss, the Old Jail, the oldest building in St. Augustine (which is really awesome when you think about it... the oldest building in the oldest city!), and so many other awesome places. I recommend spending some time walking around Hypolita & St. George Street Historic Walking Mall. This area is filled with shops, restaurants and a variety of diverse people.

If you love gelato (let's be honest... who doesn't love gelato??), Cafe del Hidalgo is perfect. They actually have a few food options, which are all delicious. They're inexpensive too. They have salads and paninis and pastries and coffee, and honestly, the best gelato I've ever had. There's something wonderful about walking through the streets of Old St. Augustine with a couple of great friends and a gelato in hand. Something deliciously wonderful.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Portland, Oregon

While science has its boring moments (like today, staring a computer screen and thinking about the pedicure I'm getting later), it also has some really awesome moments. My absolute most favorite perk of science is travel. That's a HUGE reason why I chose this profession. (Also another great reason to be a student... student travel funds!) Since I'm getting little to nothing accomplished today, I'm going to blog about my favorite city in the whole country- Portland, Oregon. For all you tree-huggin'-hippie-vegans out there, the Pacific Northwest was designed with you in mind (also one of the top 5 fittest cities in America!). They cater with endless vegetarian dishes and free-spirit attitudes. They're a hustle-bustle city but only an hour from the Columbia River Gorge, only 2 hours from the ocean, and right on the Washington State line.

One of the coolest parts about Portland is its transportation system. For FREE you can take a train anywhere you want in the main part of the city. For $1 you can go just outside the city, and for $3? you can go as far as the airport. This is by far the cheapest and easiest way to get around. If you're flying in, take the train to your hotel.

My trip to the beautiful city of Portland wasn't really a vacation. I was there for the ASLO/AGU Ocean Sciences meeting. That didn't stop me from having an awesome time though! The thing about Portland is that, like many cities, it's divided into sections. I suggest arriving during the day if you've never been there before. I arrived when it was dark out, didn't know where I was going, and had a less-than-awesome first impression. I was staying at the Crowne Plaza. Note: Be on the right side of the river. There is a Crown Plaze (no "e"), which is a business center and NOT a hotel on one side of the river, and Crowne Plaza (yes, hotel) on the "right" side by the Oregon Convention Center. Once I found my way to my hotel and my fellow students, I was okay. My first night in Portland is one I will never forget, because after getting lost, all I wanted was to find food. We walked to the other side of the river and found this place called Dante's. Can we say AMAZING pizza slices at ridiculously low prices?! I had two huge slices, for like, $3. Yeah. Now, apart from the pizza, Dante's is really about entertainment. Depending on which night you go, you can expect a variety of entertainment. The night I was there involved "Go-Go Dancers" and guys breathing fire. They also play phenomenal music. If you're up for a crazy night, DEFINITELY go to Dante's. End night one.

Most of our days were spent at the Oregon Convention Center, listening to scientists and academics talk about the ocean and why what they did was super cool. Our nights were spent bouncing from brewery to brewery for their phenomenal home-brewed beer and food.

One of the days we opted out of conferencing and decided to rent a car and drive to the Columbia River Gorge, which was about an hour away. Driving through the rugged wilderness of Oregon reminded me a lot of New England, except with freakishly tall trees. I was there in February, and even though it was chilly, there was no snow, and it rained very little. I stole the above autumn photo from my friend Shirley, who visited Portland in October for another conference. Anyway, our first stop on our Columbia River Gorge adventure was a scenic view of Crown Point. Our next stop was actually at Crown Point where we got out of the car and almost blew over the edge. It was SO windy. We asked a woman to take our picture and could barely tame our hair from blowing wildly all over the place. Throughout the gorge there are several waterfalls, each one looking completely different from the next. Notice the picture on the left, and how HUGE the waterfall is!? I couldn't even fit it all in the picture and was standing pretty far away. I was surprised how green Oregon was in February. Being from the north, I expected snow and gloom and no leaves on most trees, but it was actually very vibrant. The other waterfall that really stood out to me, and is very well known, was Multnomah Falls. Multnomah Falls isthe second highest continuous waterfall in the country and cascades 620 feet down Larch Mountain. The geology of this waterfall is also pretty spectacular, having entablature basalt, pillow basalt, and columnar basalt. After hiking and driving for several hours, we stopped in Hood River at a brewery called Big Horse Brew Pub. It was at this restaurant where I tasted how great new foods can be. I had an apple & fig quesadilla, and holy smokes was it delicious. They also have enormous homemade brownies, a variety of soups and, of course, great beer. They actually let us sample the beer until we found one we loved, which we all did.

A secondary adventure was a day of exploring around the city itself. Three places you MUST go. One, Powell's City of Books. I don't care if you claim you've seen a bookstore the size of Godzilla. This place is bigger and I'll prove it. Take a look at the directory to the right. It would have taken me days to look through everything. Unfortunately, we only had about an hour, but it gave us a pretty cool idea of what they had to offer!

Place #2: Stumptown Coffee. There are many, but they're all in Portland. I went to the one downtown, which has a very "city" feel. One of the walls is all brick and the room was filled with the strangest combination of people I've ever seen: musicians, business-suits, hippies, crazy student scientists... it was nuts. Not to mention they have delicious coffee. For those of you who love the Earth, most of Portland, including Stumptown, uses compostable materials. They want, need and beg you to recycle. They <3 Earth.

Place #3: Voodoo Doughnut. Portland is famous for this doughnut shop. Imagine any combination of amazing (and unusual) doughnut ingredients, and they're sure to have it. My doughnut of choice was the Memphis Mafia, which is fried dough with banana chunks and cinnamon sugar covered in a glaze with chocolate frosting, peanut butter, peanuts and chocolate chips on top. Sounds weird, but it was delicious. And also fattening. But also delicious. No options. You HAVE to go here. P.S. The Memphis Mafia can be spotted on the top shelf toward the back left. It's topped with peanut butter and chocolate chips.... so the one that looks like it has chocolate chips on it. Yeah. That was mine.

I seriously love food. I can think of few things that bring me greater joy. Another amazing restaurant we went to was Deschute's Brewery. (yes, I know, another brewery. But really, they have the best food and drinks unique to the area!) We actually went here 2 nights. The first night I ordered macaroni and cheese with salmon. The best salmon you will ever have is in the pacific northwest. Seriously. This meal was no exception. The second night I ordered falafel, which was also delicious. For you meat-eaters, they have an elk burger to die for. I know because I tried it. It looked amazing and tasted even better. Oh! Another place that deserves a shoutout. There's this little place across the street from Deschute's called Sweet Masterpiece Chocolate & Coffee Bar. The woman who makes this chocolate deserves an award. By far, the best chocolate I've ever had. It's a little pricey, but it's homemade. She also has a variety of candies that has flower petals in them. Also, they have wine, sandwiches and other fantastic pastries and desserts, none of which I actually had. I only tried the chocolate. Twice. We also ate at an italian restaurant, but I can't remember the name of it. Food was great though. Bottom line, the food in Portland rocks.

If you have a chance to go inside the convention center, you definitely should. It's enormous and has really abstract sculptures everywhere. One last thing. I took this picture when flying out of Portland. Yep, best city ever.

Hotel cost per person: $30/night
Food per person: $200/week
Transportation/Car Rental per person: $40

Total: $270

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Road tripping! Ohio/Kentucky/Tennessee

Vacations aren't always about the place you go, but the people you go with, and the amazing time you can have en route! For those who don't mind being in a car for a while, road trips are a blast. During my Spring Break in 2008, the geology club went on a road trip, hitting a bunch of awesome places in only 4 days. Beginning in western New York, we made our way south west, passing through Pennsylvania and then making a pit stop in Ohio. Now...if you like fossils, you'll love this. Caeser Creek State Park is located in Wilmington, Ohio, about halfway between Columbus and Cincinnati. Even if you're not that into fossils, but like being outside, this makes a great break during your road trip through Ohio (probably a great final destination for camping too!). Since we are geologists and think fossils are awesome, we spent about an hour and a half stretching our legs and checking out fossils that range from 450-500 million years old. Before you can do that, you need to stop at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Visitor Center and pick up a permit. The permit doesn't cost anything, but there are some rules they like you to follow (e.g. no rock hammers....). Even besides scoping out ancient remains, there's so much to do there!After our fun mini adventure we piled back in the car with our juice boxes and tubes of pringles (yes....we're college students after all) and continued on to Kentucky where we stayed the night. The next morning we drove over to the Creation Museum which is located in Petersburg, KY. Despite your personal beliefs, this museum is very well-designed. If you like dinosaurs, you'll love this museum. My only serious complaint was that it was a tad pricey. Regular adult admission for 1 day is $21.95. Kids 5-12 are $11.95. If you're active duty Fireman, Policeman, or Military, your admission is FREE! This museum is also relatively new, and a LOT of money went into its development, which might account for the high admission cost. There's definitely a lot to see there and the gift shop is pretty extensive. Our visit to the museum didn't take as long as we thought it would, and we were only 20 minutes from Louisville, so we decided to take a drive downtown and visit the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. Whether you're a baseball fan or not, this place is fantastic.So, as said in name, this is both a factory AND museum. Admission is only $10 which includes a free miniature bat souvenir, tour of the factory, and a walk down baseball history lane. In the factory, you can actually watch the bats being made (though there is no bat production on certain days of the year...those days are listed on the website.) There's also a batting cage available and personalized bats can be ordered upon arrival and picked up when you leave, if you want something extra. We didn't spend much time in any one place, but Louisville seemed like an awesome place in general. It sits right on the Ohio River, which is also the Indiana-Kentucky border. As an aside about Kentucky, they have the best food. My travels through Kentucky gave me my first Waffle House, which has delicious/enormous breakfast for SO cheap. I'm talking "stuff your face until you're uncomfortably full" for under $10. Also, the south loves their deep fried food, and I will never forget my life-changing experience of deep-fried pickles, which I had for the first time in Kentucky. Now, that my stomach is growling.... Okay, so after we finished at the museum, we drove a few hours south to Nashville. The next day, we visited the Grand Ole Opry, which is unfortunately not in the best condition right now with all the flooding. The Grand Ole Opry Museum is a must-see. It's totally free and gives a tour of country music history. I highly recommend Nashville for "places to visit". It's such an exciting city with so much to do. There's night life, history, great food and tons of tourist attractions. There's also a great zoo which was relatively new when we went. Admission was $14 for adults and $9 for kids. Since our time was limited, I did not get to see the Country Music Hall of Fame or about 20 other things I would have loved to see...but at some point I'll be making a trip back to catch what I missed. After our brief day in Nashville, we drove back up to Kentucky, but this time our destination was Cave City. Now, despite all the amazing places we went to on this trip, this is was our goal destination. The entirety of our trip was planned around Cave City. Why? Because Mammoth Caves National Park is there. Mammoth Caves is a HUGE (or... Mammoth?) cave system. And if you don't have a problem with small spaces, I highly recommend a tour. There are several tours you can choose from, which last different amounts of time, cover different portions of the cave system, and have different prices. Every tour is very reasonably priced though. We chose the Snowball Tour, which is a bit physically demanding as there are a lot of stairs to climb up and down. While some parts of the cave are tighter, other parts are huge open spaces. That tour was 3 hours and costs $14 for adults and $9 for kids. To me, this was the ideal tour, since it covered a good portion of the cave and we were able to see several formations of gypsum. The reason the tour is called the Snowball Tour is because mid tour, you enter into what is called the "Snowball Dining Room" where gypsum covers the cave walls and looks like snowballs. There is also food available for purchase at that point. After our exhausting and exhilarating day of caving, we went out to eat at a local Mexican Restaurant and stayed the night. The next day was primarily devoted to driving since we had a deadline to return. We stayed one extra night in Ohio, and drove the next day back to western NY. We stayed in Best Westerns each night. While it may seem like our trip was all over the place, it actually forms an almost perfectly straight line to Nashville and back. Round trip, it was about 1300 miles, and cost each vehicle about $150 for gas, which isn't bad at all, especially if you split it between everyone!
Hotel:: $70/room/night (we stayed 5 nights total)
Attractions: $60/person
Food: $100/person
Of course the total cost depends on how many people are present. We had about 12, so we had to get 3 hotel rooms, and take 3 vehicles. After splitting everything up...
Total cost: ~$300/person
Obviously trips should be customized to the people going, but if you're up for adventure and a mix of science and history, you will LOVE this trip!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

San Antonio, TX

One of my favorite vacations of all time was my long weekend in San Antonio this past November. My boyfriend flew in from California to meet me there during our Thanksgiving Break. San Antonio is such a cool city. The mix of historical Spanish influence with the present-day Mexican influence makes for a unique atmosphere.
When I arrived, I was so excited to see the history. I've never been a huge fan of history, but when I can actually see it in front of me, I get sucked right in. The Alamo is a must-see, though it is by far, not the most impressive mission in San Antonio. I was actually shocked when I saw it. My boyfriend had been there several years ago, and while walking through the city to go there, I couldn't understand where it could possibly be with so much city still around us. Well, there it was, surrounded by city- and surprisingly small! In fact, my first reaction was "That's it?" However, even though it wasn't as majestic as I'd imagined it to be, it was still beautiful. Plus, it's free, so there's no excuse not to go! Other missions in San Antonio are placed along what is called "Mission Trail" and set just outside the city. If you're staying right in the city, there's a lot you can see without a car (if you don't mind walking a bit) but Mission Trail isn't one of them. You definitely need a car, but these missions are gorgeous! In 1983, the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park was established. Again, Mission Trail/Missions National Historical Park is completely free. So apart from the fantastic Spanish architecture/history, there's still so much to do. One of the more obvious tourist attractions is the River Walk. The River Walk is set below the level of the rest of the city, with shops and restaurants along the San Antonio River. One of the best surprises when I visited was the Holiday River Parade & Lighting Ceremony. This takes place along the River Walk the day after Thanksgiving as a kick-off to the Christmas season. Boats float down the river decorated for Christmas, and at 7pm, all the lights along the River Walk are turned on. Tickets can be purchased to watch this from the River Walk, but it's completely free to watch it from the street level above. Thousands of people show up for this event and a good view can be hard to find, but a little patience (and arriving early!) will get you a pretty good spot. I had read about the parade before going, but didn't realize it could be viewed from the street and thought you could only see it if you bought a ticket, so we stumbled on it after some Black Friday Shopping. There are actually many malls in San Antonio, but the Rivercenter Mall is right in the city next to the River Walk. The River Center Mall is a pretty good size, and like every mall, likes to go all out with Christmas decorations.
Two other must-see attractions that people don't usually think of: The San Antonio Botanical Garden and The Japanese Tea Garden. Parking is free at the Botanical Garden and admission is very inexpensive. Adults are $7, Children are $4, and Students/Senior Citizens/Military personnel are $5. This garden is HUGE and so gorgeous. We easily spent hours, and by no means took our time! The garden includes Formal and Display Gardens, the Lucile Halsell Conservatory, and the Texas Native Trail which includes vegetation from different sections of Texas. When I was visiting, there were bug displays made of branches throughout the garden.
The Japanese Tea Garden was just reopened (2008). Admission and parking are free. This Garden is actually right next to the San Antonio Zoo, which I did not visit. There are ponds and waterfalls, beautiful vegetation and an extraordinary pagoda. The garden was surprisingly quiet, which was a nice escape from city noise. If you love Mexican food as much as I do, a restaurant you'll adore is La Margarita Restaurant and Oyster Bar. Located in the Market Square, Mexican vendors lined the street, with concerts and food and banners all over that said "Feliz Navidad." La Margarita has AMAZING Mexican Food at very reasonable prices! My boyfriend and I got an appetizer, each had a margarita and so much food we couldn't finish, and the final bill was under $30. Yum yum yum. Also, they have a mariachi band available for serenading for $5. Even if you choose not to be serenaded to, they add a nice atmosphere as they sing to tables around you. My suggestion is to find a hotel in the city. I found my hotel at which resulted in a King Suite for around $70/night. Parking in the city is VERY expensive. We stayed at the Best Western Alamo Suites Downtown which is located just off Route 10 about a mile from the River Walk, Alamo, etc. We were able to walk into the city each of the days we were there, so if you don't mind walking, it saves a lot on parking. Food along the River Walk can also be expensive, though the experience can be fun. There are a lot of restaurants in the area outside of the River Walk though, so depending on the types of food you like and how much you're willing to spend on meals, you might just have to look around a bit. Our hotel had a free continental breakfast we took advantage of. Many hotels will also have brochures in the lobby with coupons for attractions in the area. Right across from the Alamo is a visitors center with information as well.
Duration: ~3 1/2 days
# of people: 2
Total $$: ~$300
Cost doesn't include travel to get to San Antonio (or my shopping spree on Black Friday at the River Center Mall which is obviously non-essential...sorta haha). With our days packed full of attractions and delicious food, $300 for a vacation is amazing! I give this trip 5 stars!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Another travel blog...

I guess I should start by explaining that I am a young, single (not married) grad student, that recently moved half-way across the country. My traveling experience is by no means extensive. I actually have not left the country, except for a gallivant or two across the Canadian border. That being said, I do have a decent amount of travel experience, and am fantastic at spending as little as possible while having an excellent time! Like I said, I'm a grad student, so my annual income is actually below poverty level, yet I've managed to take multiple trips over the past couple years.
I REALLY love to travel. I tend to live from one trip to the next (with lots of homework and research taking up the time inbetween). I am lucky enough to know a lot of people that are spread all over the country, so my trips are often tied in with visits to friends and family.
My goal is to visit every state. In the past two years, I've been to twenty states (some a much briefer visit than others). Despite that goal, what I really want is to see new places and fill up my life with adventures and memories.
I feel like so many people think travel is impossible because of their financial situation, and while everyone's situation is different, my hope is to point out some great options for inexpensive vacations. My adventures have been spread all over the country, but perhaps one of my fantastic vacations will be in a city nearby!
Perhaps I will be my only reader, but that's okay, because I love to reminisce about past vacations and I love to make plans for my next great vacation :-)